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The Humble Essayist Himself

The Humble Essayist is the hardly humble person, Steven Harvey, the author a memoir from Ovenbird Books about the suicide of his mother entitled The Book of Knowledge and Wonder.  A Geometry of Lilies, his first book about family life, was twice honored as a finalist in the Associated Writing Program’s nonfiction contest before being published by the University of South Carolina Press.  Since then he has published two books from The University of Georgia Press:  Lost in Translation, about his experiences as a father and teacher, and Bound for Shady Grove which describes his attempt to deepen his understanding of his adopted culture in north Georgia by learning to play the mountain banjo.  He has edited an anthology of essays written by men on middle age called In a Dark Wood, also from Georgia.


He has published widely in magazines such as Harper's, The Georgia Review, The Southern Review, The Hopkins Review, Creative Nonfiction, River Teeth, Hotel Amerika, and Fourth Genre.  Recently Cheryl Strayed chose his essay "The Book of Knowledge" for The Best American Essays of 2013.


He received his Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia and is a member of the faculty in the Ashland MFA in Creative Writing.  Recently he was named as a senior editor at River Teeth magazine, his literary home.  When he isn't disguised as a humble practitioner of the craft of writing essays, he sings and plays banjo, guitar, and ukulele for the band Butternut Creek & Friends. You can learn more about him and his work at the website:



A Sampling of Reviews


on A Geometry of Lilies


“In A Geometry of Lilies Steven Harvey delivers a wonderful array of essays, fully exploring every aspect of family life.  A delight to read.”

—Jill McCorkle, author of Ferris Beach


“These ten refined, luminous pieces are in the tradition of the familiar essay, informal and urbane, with an engaging narrator who speaks, as Montaigne did, out of everyday experiences. They are familiar in a deeper sense as well, for they dwell on life within a family.”

–Scott Russell Sanders, author of Secrets of the Universe


“Harvey…spins a dreamy evocation of his own family.  Each one of these eleven essays is rich in memory and description.”

                                                --Publisher’s Weekly


on Lost in Translation


“Steven Harvey established himself with his first collection, A Geometry of Lilies, as a master of the personal essay.  Lost in
surpasses his first achievement.”

—James Kilgo, author of Deep Enough for Ivory Bills


on Bound for Shady Grove


“Broadly lyrical and tight, in craft and thought.  The descriptions of the music, building instruments, and playing instruments are wonderful.”

—Samuel F. Pickering Jr., author of Still Life


"I liked this book a lot, or as we say in the mountains, 'a bushel and a peck and some in a gourd.'"

–Zell Miller, author The Mountains within Me

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